High Court ac­tion over Easter Trad­ing

The Hastings Mail - - FRONT PAGE - MARTY SHARPE

A Napier man is tak­ing his lo­cal coun­cil to court over its de­ci­sion to al­low re­tail­ers to open on Easter Sun­day.

Robin Gwynn, a for­mer Napier City coun­cil­lor, filed an ap­pli­ca­tion for ju­di­cial re­view in the High Court at Napier on Thurs­day.

Coun­cil­lors voted 6-5 in Fe­bru­ary last year to adopt a lo­cal trad­ing pol­icy, which would al­low re­tail­ers to open on Easter Sun­day if they chose to.

Changes to the Shop Trad­ing Hours Act meant coun­cils could adopt such a pol­icy, re­plac­ing ex­ist­ing leg­is­la­tion that stip­u­lated shops must be closed on that day un­less ex­empt.

‘‘The case has been taken be­cause of a con­cern that the process coun­cil fol­lowed to re­move one of the three and a half re­main­ing guar­an­teed hol­i­days for all work­ers pre­vented proper con­sul­ta­tion with many of those most af­fected by the de­ci­sion, in­clud­ing em­ploy­ees of shops now able to trade on Easter Sun­day, and church groups,’’ Gwynn said.

He said this oc­curred be­cause sub­mis­sions were only able to be made over the sum­mer pe­riod when churches were busy in the lead up to Christ­mas, and with clergy and staff then on leave, ‘‘and be­cause coun­cil wrongly as­sumed it had con­sulted with trade unions’’.

‘‘In my view the process the coun­cil did un­der­take favoured the busi­ness com­mu­nity so that the coun­cil re­ceived an in­com­plete and bi­ased re­sponse to its pro­posed pol­icy,’’ he said.

‘‘Be­fore 1980 New Zealan­ders en­joyed over a hun­dred shared leave days.

‘‘Los­ing one of the very few now re­main­ing guar­an­teed shared leave days is a sig­nif­i­cant mat­ter for so­ci­ety as a whole,’’ he said.

He said a pe­ti­tion last year of over four hun­dred peo­ple ask­ing the coun­cil to hold ‘‘a proper and fair hear­ing’’ was ig­nored and that left ‘‘court ac­tion as the only re­main­ing re­sort for nat­u­ral jus­tice on this is­sue’’.

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